Mr MLA, you were chased at Zainakote

SRINAGAR : MLA Batamaloo Noor Mohammad was actually chased from interior Zainakote on Monday. The police had to chase protesters and there were at least three stone pelting attacks, Kashmir Life investigations revealed.

Police had denied the occurrence of the incident Tuesday night, almost 20 hours after Kashmir Life reported the incident. Since it was denied at various levels in police and civil administration, Kashmir Life had kept the report in abeyance pending further investigation.

Noor Mohammad Sheikh, PDP MLA Batamaloo

Though news stories put in freezers usually remain untouched in newsrooms, this particular one proved having a short shelf life, however. The lawmaker sent a communication to director information on Wednesday seeking action against Kashmir Life for spreading rumours. This led the newsroom to pull the copy out of the shelf and start investigations afresh because it involved credibility of a news organization, a major source of news on and about Kashmir.

Two teams visited the interior Zainakote to check and verify the veracity of the brief report we had carried Monday night. We also visited the host but we do not wish to involve him in the reportage about the lawmaker.

Residents said that the local MLA Noor Mohammad is known to all and the host expected him to be in Zainakote by around 2 pm. The two have a good relationship. But he reached almost 4:30 pm with the local police and his personal security. The locality being deep inside the Zinakote, his small cavalcade took the HMT-shrine zigzag to reach his host. He had actually gone against the advice of the police that getting so deep into a locality with a small road access is a serious security problem. But he kept his word.

A young man said that while Noor Mohammad was very tense inside the host’s home, some police officers, apparently the local SHO, was more tense. He had not taken meals at his host’s place, apparently because he said he already had lunch somewhere. One witness said he actually took some juice. “For the entire 15 minutes, the officer was walking between the gate (of the host) and the jeep parked on the road,” the young man said. “We could feel the tensions.” This young man said the MLA moved out and left within 15 minutes. “But while he was moving out, there were some boys who pelting a few stones on his cavalcade,” the young man said, insisting that most of the youth were playing volleyball.

A middle aged man who said he personally knows the MLA and insisted that had the lawmaker came alone he would have faced no problem, told Kashmir Life that it was a chain of stone pelting incidents that literally chased Noor Mohammad, whom he described as “my friend”.

“It started with a stick being thrown at the police vehicle, almost 100 ft away from the host’s home when Noor Sahab was leaving and then there were a few stones on the cavalcade,” the man said. “MLA was in his car and cops were on foot. They chased the boys near the first shop that is located on the three-way but the boys took the second route to reach the heights on the street.” There, they resorted to another dose of stone pelting and when the cavalcade reached near the main route, there was another round. “The cops did fire two tear smoke shells while fleeing from the locality,” the man said. He had witnessed the entire scene.

Part of the crisis was that the small road that leads to the host’s home is narrow and follow a zigzag ascend which makes it very difficult to traverse. Local youth said that the lawmaker could have faced a much larger crisis had he chosen to use the routine road and not the HMT access side.

With this investigation, we at Kashmir Life are reiterating that our report on the incident has been clean, objective and honest. It, however, was very brief. The only inaccuracy could be that the lawmaker was not chased by the other invitees. His cavalcade was attacked by the local youth.

Kashmir Life stands by what it has reported and will continue to report with textbook objectivity. We want rumour mongers to take note of it.

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